Green Eyes On: Seeking Cancer Cure, Teenage Entrepreneurs Sell Honey at Whole Foods

hives for lives photo

Photo: Via Hives for Lives

It's that time of year, when kids all over are saying so long to summer camp and lazy mornings watching TV show reruns, and gearing up for the new school year. But few will be as busy as Molly and Carly: In addition to school and school activities, this young entrepreneurial sister duo manages the day-to-day operations of their own honey business, Hives for Lives.

Hives for Lives Honey is a "Product with a Purpose"

Molly, 16, and Carly, 14, started raising honeybees five years ago when their grandfather died of cancer. They felt young and helpless against their grandpa’s illness, and when faced with the startling statistics (they cite that one in two males and one in three females will be diagnosed with cancer), wanted to do something to help. So they created a "product with a purpose," and formed their own company. Now the honey is available at Whole Foods Market, and 100 percent of proceeds help fund research for a cure for all types of cancer.
bees honeycomb photo

Photo: Getty Images

The Honey Supports Cancer Hospitalies and Research Facilities
Molly and Carly raise honeybees, then harvest, spin, bottle, and sell the honey. So far, they’ve given away $45,000. Their honey is sold in seven of the 11 Whole Foods Market regions, which they believe will translate eventually into hundred of thousands of dollars for cancer research. Profits from each region’s sales go to "nationally renowned regional cancer hospitals and research facilities," allowing local buyers to fund cancer research in their communities.

george bush hives for lives photo

Photo: Via Hives for Lives

Hives for Lives has Earned A Nod From George W. Bush
In 2007, Carly and Molly were recognized for their efforts by President George W. Bush. But 2008 could be an even bigger year for the girls -- when I met them a few months ago, they were giving a PowerPoint presentation to a packed room of business executives and entrepreneurs at the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) gathering in Boulder, Colorado. All of the members of the crowd were at least double their age.

During the presentation, the girls said they’re proud of their recent Whole Foods deals (getting their product in so many WFM regions is something many companies aspire to), but what they really want is to see their honey in more hospital gift shops. Can a fortune be made from hospital gift shops? Probably not -- but Molly and Carly aren’t worried about that. Put the honey that will help find a cure for cancer in the building where people are suffering from the very same disease, and an unmistakable connection is made; people suddenly find a way to contribute.

And who doesn’t like honey? As the girls say, it’s non-perishable, natural, healthful, and curative. But despite the busy back-to-school month (they have 11th and 8th grade schoolwork and friends after all), the girls have a busy speaking schedule to look forward to, presenting their entrepreneurial idea to universities, schools, and zoos.

Fall Means the Honey Harvest
Then there's one other big hurdle. As we all move silently from summer into the early days of autumn, Molly and Carly will be planning for what must be the equivalent of the "crush" in Napa or Bordeaux. On Labor Day Weekend they will wake one morning hopeful that swarms of helper bees will descend upon their Philadelphia area home to help them bottle 600 pounds of harvested honey. Honey for their grandpa, for my friend’s wife, for everyone who you know who has fought against the ugly disease: cancer.

To do my part in supporting Carly and Molly, I’m listing below my recipe for honey cake. It’s a recipe I developed for my first Discovery Networks series, Living Fresh. It’s moist and healthy, and pairs perfectly with sliced figs or a scoop of goat’s milk vanilla ice cream. Try it this week -- with a bottle of Hives for Lives honey! ::Hives for Lives
Honey Cake Recipe
2 cups organic whole-wheat flour
1 ½ cups organic white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
1 ½ cups organic sugar
½ cup organic brown sugar, packed
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 organic eggs - beaten
1 ½ cups warm coffee or strong black tea
½ cup coconut oil (This will likely be hard at room temperature. Allow to soften in a warm spot or firmly mix it in as a solid.)
1 cup Hives for Lives honey
12 fresh figs (dried or fresh apricots could work)
Sliced toasted slivered almond

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease the bottom and sides of a cake pan (like a Bundt pan). In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, applesauce, vanilla and beaten eggs. In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients –- flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Mix in the sugars.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the coconut oil and coffee. Allow the hot coffee to dissolve the coconut oil solid.

Pour in juice mixture. Stir well to blend the wet into the dry.

Add in honey and stir together until it resembles a well-mixed cake batter. Lay sliced figs along the bottom of the pan. Pour batter into the pan, careful not to disturb the placed figs. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.
Allow to stand for 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve with remaining sliced figs and a drizzle of honey.

Sara Snow is green lifestyle expert, and a regular contributor to TreeHugger via her Green Eyes On columns. She can also be seen on on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
More on Hives for Lives
::Hives for Lives: Fighting Cancer Has Never Been Sweeter
More on the Bee Crisis
::Where Did the Bees Go?
::Bees Victim of Media Hype, Not Epidemic
::Beekeepers Utilize Internet to Fight Mystery 'Disorder'
::Honey Bee Mystery Solved?
More Ways to Support Bees
::Dzign Life Natural Soy Candles
::Beauty Lab: BeeCeuticals Organics Bee-Hair-Now
Sara Snow is a green living expert and regular contributor to TreeHugger via her Green Eyes On column. She can also be seen on on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Her new DVD, Growing Green Babies, will be available Sept 2 through her website.

Related Content on